Saturday, April 26, 2008

Not So Super Savings

I know that I will not get any blue ribbon for the most savings and/or least cash spent out of pocket(oop) for the week, however, I still saved $70 on groceries!!! (Sorry no pics this week, cause I put it all away before I realized that I didn’t take pics!) I needed to get meats for meals for the next couple of weeks and I need to do some restock of fresh fruits and veggies.

Instead of listing everything that I purchased this week I am just going to give some highlights of my deals.

I took advantage of Meijer 10 for $10 with 11th item free Mix and Match Sale and purchased some stock up items…
5 Gatorade $5.00
3 Ragu Pasta Sauce $3.00
6 Totino’s Pizzas $6.00 minus $1.00 for Free item

I also purchased 4 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls--$6.00 which yielded one Catalina coupon for a Free Pillsbury Ready to Bake cookies. Actually my Meijer trip yielded me lots of Catalina coupons that is about the only big highlight of my trip!! LOL!

I found that my Meijer had a trial size of Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion so I got that for FREE after $1 coupon.

I restocked my yogurt supply with the Yoplait Yogurt that was on sale 10/$5 and used coupons to sweeten the deal even more. :)

I checked the discounted meats and purchased a couple of steaks for a dinner for hubby and me. I purchased 3 family packs of the boneless skinless chicken that was on sale for $1.99/lb. I also got 3lbs of the ground chuck that was on sale for $1.79/lb.

Savings Today at Meijer
Total Meijer Promotions: $11.78
Total Non-Coupon Savings: $31.73
Total Coupon Savings: $7.90
TOTAL Savings overall:$51.41
TOTAL spent oop $108.99
See not a very good savings this week!!

I also made a quick run into Family Fare again this week. I like their selection of fresh fruit and veggies better than Meijer.

They also had all Keebler Cookies 50% off plus I had 2 coupons(55 cents/2 and $1/1) so I got three packages for $3.38 or $1.13/pkg.

I also purchased 3 pkgs. of Spartan(store brand) bacon for $5. This will make some cheap 44 cents breakfast sandwiches or homemade bacon cheeseburgers or homemade chicken club sandwiches!!!

All total I spent oop $36.67 and saved $18.65(best I can figure because they don’t put the savings total on the receipt like Meijer).

To see other's savings this week head over to BeCentsAble's Centsable Shopper Show N Tell or MoneySavingMom's Super Savings Saturday!!!

**side note, just in case you are wondering after my questioning stockpiling post, I have decided for the health of my budget and my marriage that I am going to refrain from CVSing or Walgreens shopping til my pantry needs stocked again! Which best I can figure will be at least a couple of months! :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Frugal Friday

This week for Frugal Friday, Crystal talked about some frugal decorating that she has done in her home. It looks gorgous!

Despite the fact, that home decorating can be a budget buster for me. I thought I would follow her example and post about some of the frugal decorating that I have done in my home.

I have taken puzzles and framed them. The 1000 piece flag puzzle I found at Value City Furniture for $3. I put it together and then used puzzle glue(only used a 1/3 of the bottle-$1.66) to preserve it. Then I put it in a poster frame($6) and hung it. All total this piece of artwork cost me $10.66 to go into my red, white, and blue kitchen/eating area.

I also did two Thomas Kinkade painting puzzles. I got the puzzles as gifts from my parents so I am not sure how much they cost(I googled they run about $12-$20 depending on the puzzle). I used the rest of the bottle of puzzle glue. These were a bit trickier to frame as they were circular puzzles. My hubby decided to take it to Michael's and have their custom framing department frame it. He used their 60% off sale as well. He got one of the them just matted so that we could interchange them in the frame. So to get 2 puzzles matted and one framed. It cost $230. Now one would think that is a little bit much for thinking frugal but I don't think you are going to find two framed Thomas Kinkade paintings for $250.

For other ideas, resources, and tips; head over to Biblical Womanhood.

3 Random Things about Me

I was tagged by my friend, Jasmine to blog about 3 randon things about me!

The rules for ‘3 Random Things’:
1. Post 3 random things about yourself.
2. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
3. Tag at least 5 other bloggers.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them by commenting on their blog with an invite to participate.

So here I go:

1. I am the oldest out of 8 children in my family.

2. I met my hubby online back when message boards were DOS based bulletin boards. He was in the Navy and I was going to college. We met in person a year after we met online.

3. I worked with my dad at General Motors/Delphi Automotive during three different summer breaks to pay my way thru college debt free.

There you have it! Three random things about me. :)

Now to tag others....

I am not sure who to tag....sooooo if you read this post considered yourself tagged!! Let me know via comments that you participated. :)

Finding Coupons

I have been asked by a reader...

Do u have any suggestions as to where to get coupons? Sunday paper dont put only about 5 of them out and usually it is all for cat/dog food...and none of the stores around here take printable ones! Its horrible! I've looked into all those great websites everyone talks about where I can look up sales ahead of time and save...but the problem is where I live there arent any stores that they list. We dont even have a CVS! :(

My answer:

Start by writing or calling companies asking for coupons. Look at the labels of things that you buy to find the addresses or phone numbers of the companies. To make things a little easier for you, Wendy-Its More Than Enough has posted many companies' 800 numbers along with updates as to what the companies have sent in the way of coupons. I also found Tom--$39 dollar experiment, who took a roll of stamps (back when stamps were 39 cents) and wrote to 100 different companies looking for samples or coupons. He posted his letters and his results. I found it very fascinating. I wonder though if he would have gotten better results from the companies that didn't send him anything if he had asked for just a certain product or had given feedback about their products.

I have also taken the time to write or call companies, however I haven't just asked for coupons but I gave them feedback on the quality of their product. Just to name a few.... I wrote the local Wendy's franchise telling them about the service and quality of food in one of their restaurauts. Their response was a letter along with coupons for free frostys and french fries. Another was Pillsbury that I wrote via letter using their online comment form/email telling them about the quality of a tube of cinnamon rolls. Their response was a snail mail letter filled with coupons for free tubes of cinnamon rolls. Another was Spartan Stores that I called their 800 number telling them that I purchased some milk with a sell by date 2 weeks away and it already tasted sour. The results they sent me coupons for free milk to use at the store that I purchased the milk.

I have found that companies are anxious to hear from the consumer about their products.

I find it very interesting that stores will not take the printable coupons. I would think as long as there is scanable upc codes on the coupons the stores should not have any problems accepting them. If your stores allows for internet printable coupons. Here is a list of websites to find coupons also head over to this SlickDeals forum thread for a listing of other websites for regional stores....

Betty Crocker free sign up required

boxtops4education free sign up required along with school choice. free sign up required

Coupon Bar


Eat Better America

Mambo Sprouts free sign up required using email address

Red Plum

Smart Source


Target/SuperTarget Coupons

Also a couple of favorite sites of mine....

Coupon Mom --free sign-up deals by state, printable coupons, free offers, free samples and more!

Freebies4Mom a "hot spot" to find all the current freebies/offers/coupons available! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coupons Galore!

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had some great success in getting coupons outside of the inserts in my Sunday paper!

I got a set of coupons and a sample for filling out the mail in survey from Shoppers Voice. It had:
  • Children's Claritin--$3 off one 4oz liquid or 10ct tabs.
  • Visine Products--$2.50 off any 1/2oz size
  • Glade Scented Oil Refills and Warmer---$1 off each
  • Afrin Nasal Spray--Free with coupon
  • Off Products Powerpad Lamp or Lantern--$3 off one
  • Off Products Insect Repellant--$1 off one (on the back of the Powerpad coupon)
  • Free sample of Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion.

Also in the picture above is my coupon for Free Yoplait Kids Yogurt or Yogurt drink. Go to their website(follow link) and you can get your free coupon as well(not available in all states). Thanks to Freebie Fridays at MomAdvice for posting this freebie!

Then yesterday, I did my weekly shopping trip to Meijers to get the weekly deals and when I checked out I got LOTS of Catalina coupons to use on subsequent visits. Here is what I got:
  • Ziploc Containers---$1 off one
  • Dove Go Fresh Deodorant---$1 off one
  • Pillsbury Ready to bake cookies---FREE (I bought 4 Pillsbury Crescent rolls to get this coupon---Thanks to NeedANap2 for leaving me a comment about this deal!)
  • Yoplait GoGurt Fizzz---FREE
  • $5 off next $75 purchase
  • $7 off next $110 purchase
  • Advertisement telling me of a deal where if I buy 5 Colgate Palmolive Products in one transaction between 4/27-5/3, I will get $5 off my next shopping trip. Makes me wonder what kind of deals they are going to have next week on those products!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Weblink Wednesday

When I am teaching my kids to read I use several sources so boredom does not set in. Along with basic readers from the library and Starfall, I use School Bell's Dolch Kit. It is a wealth of resources for those basic sight words that everyone needs to know. I love using the games and the practice book with my kids. I print up the practice book and as they can say the words without hesitation I highlight the words. Highlighting the words helps them see concretely how many words they actually know. There is also checklist/recordkeeping that you can do with the lists as well. I print those sheets out as well and use them. I hang onto those to put in the kids end of the year portfolio.

For other valuable website resources, head over to Val's-Homeschooling with Encouragement!

Works for Me Wednesday

It is that time of year again!!! Time to do a season change on the clothes in the closet!! I find this task to be overwhelming especially with having to do it for seven people! For the house we live in the closets are not big enough to keep all the types of clothes in them. So my solution is Rubbermaids!!! I am sure that this isn't a new thing to most but I find them to be very helpful!
So as to not be overwhelmed, I pull out one bin at a time! Go thru and get the clothes that I need for the one child that they will fit. Then put in the clothes that are now out of season and put the bin back into my storage room. And just do this five times over for the kids and another two times for hubby and me!!

I have labeled my Rubbermaids by sizes rather than seasons. I do it this way so that I don't have TONS of Rubbermaids hence I am space saving! And I am even time saving because I can see what bins I need to get into and which bins I don't need to for a particular year.

Having the Rubbermaids helps me to know when I have too many clothes! If the out of season clothes do not all fit back into the correct size bin....I purge!! I have several friends that bless me with their hand-me-downs and so clothes can get out of hand at times! Also, with seven people in this house, clothes could overtake the house if one didn't take the time to purge!

With having the Rubbermaids, I am able to keep closets organized and I am able to get the season change done with the clothes in one afternoon!!

So Rubbermaids for storing out of season clothes works for me!!! For other's great tips and ideas head over to Shannon's--Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Weekly Glimpse

I have decided to add something new to my blog....I am going to start doing a "Weekly Glimpse" post basically letting you see a glimpse into my life with 5 kids. I can't guarantee that I will post it on the same day each week but I am going to do this so that family and friends can read a little more about us rather than just my grocery deals, menus, or whatever. :) So without further ado here is glimpse into my week!

It is a relatively quiet week here for a change! Using the "relatively quiet" description loosely! LOL! No deliveries, no major appointments!

First off, I am glad I am able to "hide" behind the computer or not doing this via podcast or some other verbal form as I am dealing with a fierce seasonal allergy flareup! I sound and look horrible! I have gone thru at least 3 full 200 count boxes of kleenex! My nose is dry and raw! My jaw aches from all the sinus pressure and I can barely shallow my own saliva! My head is pounding! In the last 7 days, sleep has been almost non-existent due to being so plugged up! Thankfully, I am going to the doctor's this afternoon to hopefully get something for some relief!

Secondly, my hubby is really busy at work this week. He is at a conference all week! Which translates that I have to really keep the home fires burning and keep things on schedule by myself. Thankfully it is one that is in town so he is home at night so that I can see him before I close my eyes for a night's sleep! :)

Lastly, despite feeling like crap, I am trying to get thru some of the last units with the older kids for school! I really want us to be done with the school year around Memorial Day!
  • My 11yo is studying Moses and the Exodus for Bible. In Science, he is studying Diseases and their cures. This unit is part of the big unit on the human body that we have been working thru this year. In History, he is studying America's Symbols(Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, etc). In Math, he is working thru a pre-Algebra unit.
  • My 9yo and 7yo are finishing up their AWANA books for their Bible class! In Science, they are studying ladybugs! This is part of the spring unit that I have created for them! Instead of History, they are doing a Geography unit on the seven continents to finish out the school year. This week's continent is Asia. In Math, my 9yo is doing basic division and my 7yo is working on basic fractions.
  • We have gotten to the point in the school year where I am allowing them to "free read" during their 1/2 hour daily reading time. In other words, they get to choose the books they are reading each day, we are through all the classics that I wanted to cover this year. Last I checked, my 11yo was reading a book by Avi, my 9yo was reading Robin Hood out of our Great Illustrated Classics, and my 7yo was reading a Geronimo Stilton book.

My girl is starting to drive me crazy! Despite the beautiful weather that we are experiencing, she is refusing to go outside to play! She is afraid of any bugs, including ants that might be passing her on the sidewalk or in the air! Granted, I don't like bugs either but I don't have a problem with them as long as they don't land/crawl on me and/or I don't have to squish them because they are in my house. I am basically at my wit's end trying to figure out ways to get her outside to play with friends! :)

My almost 18month old is going to be helping me lose weight this summer by keeping up with him! He loves to be outside even if no one else is out there! Well he is not old enough to be outside without supervision especially in my not fenced in front yard! I was letting him play in the fenced in backyard either in the sandbox or with the our ball collection while I was in the kitchen fixing dinner. I saw it as a win-win situation...he was outside in a fenced in area where I could see him from the kitchen window and I could be working in the kitchen rather than just sitting outside. However, this week he has figured out how to open the gate! He thinks he is soo funny that he has accomplished this feat. Well, daddy to the rescue and rein on son's parade...we now have a clip lock for the gate so the older kids can get in and out but 18month can not open gate! Now let's pray that older kids remember to close the gate behind them if they go in and out of it! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays--More Muffin Talk!

For this week's kitchen tip, I thought I would talk more about making muffins! Several left me questions after last week's kitchen tip on muffins that I thought I would take the time to answer them in one post for all to see!

One said that she had trouble getting her muffins out of the pans and asked if I used liners or what did I do?! Well first off, I do use muffin paper liners. I get them from my local Gordon Food's Marketplace. They sell white ones in packs of 500 for just under $4.00(the last time I bought them about 3 months ago!). Secondly, I make sure that I don't fill the muffin wells too full, I try to only fill them about 1/2-3/4 full. Thirdly, when they are done baking and need to be taken out of the muffin pans....I take them out of the pans immediately using tongs and place them on cooling racks. Taking them out of the pans immediately means there is less chance of the muffins sticking to the pans.

Another asked how long do the muffins need to bake? It depends on the recipe! I have an orange juice muffins that cooks at 400° for 20 minutes. But then my banana bread muffin recipe bakes at 350° for about 30 minutes. If I am converting a quick bread recipe that calls for loaves to muffins, I use the oven temp that is stated in the recipe and I divide the time stated in half.(for example, recipe says bake 1 hour @ 350° then for doing muffins bake it at 350° for 30 minutes) To check for doneness, I have a Pampered Chef Cake Tester that I use. It is a long thin piece of stainless steel...longer than a toothpick so that can not get lost/stuck in the muffins! :)

I don't usually use a basic mix, however, there are many quick bread recipes that you can change the fruit or the liquid in without too much difficulty. It is fun to experiment! :) At the same time, I do have two basic mixes that I use on can find them here and here!

The last question has to do with freezing baked goods and wondering how long they last and how to store them!? I have talked before about freezing foods and I have found that with my baked goods, if I let them cool til they are just cool(about an hour) and then put them in freezer bags and put immediately into the freezer they will last a good 4 months and still be fresh tasting when thawed. I usually just stick all the muffins into a freezer bag...usually 18 regular size muffins will fit into a gallon size ziploc freezer bag. The other 6 muffins of my batch of 24 muffins, I usually leave out for the family to munch on for a snack. :) I have also taken the time to individually wrap the muffins before sticking them in the gallon size bag so that they are quick grabs for hubby's lunch.

I hope that this clarifies how to make muffins out of quick bread recipes! For more good tips and ideas head over to Tammy's Recipes!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 4/20-4/26

**Another week is upon us so that means it is time for another menu plan! This is just a plan and it could change on the cook’s whim!

Spring weather is upon us! We have had gorgeous weather this past week so much so that we had grilled burgers twice! This week, hubby has a work conference in town so he will not be eating with us on two different nights. So I am planning on kid friendly meals or leftovers to make dinner happen those nights. I am working at reducing my pantry stock so I am shopping from home this week to get meals on the table.

Lunches listed are for the kids and me. Hubby usually takes dinner leftovers each day (however, this week it is up to the kids and I to eat the leftovers as hubby will have lunch provided for him at his conference).

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus, go check other delicious meal plans that have been linked at her site! **

Sunday (4-20)
Breakfast: eggs, hash browns, sausage links, and chocolate donuts
Lunch: leftovers or sandwiches
Dinner: Little Caesar’s pizza (after church)
Snack: snack basket

Monday (4-21)
Breakfast: cereal and leftover donuts
Lunch: sandwich, chips, apple slices and carrot sticks
Dinner: grilled chicken, potatoes, corn and leftover rolls
Snack: snack basket

Tuesday (4-22)
Breakfast: pancakes and sausage links
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Qdoba's Mexican Grill (updated--I had 4 free kids meals that the kids got as a prize from the local library's summer reading program. So the kids and I along with my parents went for dinner there. Hubby ate with his co-workers @ conference)
Snack: mystery snack

Wednesday (4-23)
Breakfast: cereal and bagels
Lunch: pizza rolls
Dinner: chicken nuggets, tatar tots or mac n' cheese, corn or spinach (updated--with hubby once again not joining us for dinner, I made a kid friendly meal and even gave the kids a choice on their sides!! They all had corn for their veggie and I had the spinach!)
Snack: cookies & milk

Thursday (4-24)
Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”
Lunch: sandwich, chips, apple slices and carrot sticks
Dinner: grilled chicken/catfish/shrimp, potato pockets, green beans, and homemade honey oatmeal rolls
Snack: snack basket

Friday (4-25)
Breakfast: cereal and toast
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Chicken Veggie Stew (#8), and homemade honey oatmeal rolls
Snack: homemade chocolate shakes

Saturday (4-26)
Breakfast: “Cook’s Choice”
Lunch: ?????(it’s the weekend anything goes!)
Dinner: @ a friend’s house for a BBQ ??
Snack: popcorn or snack basket

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Budget Buster Tag

I was tagged by Jennifer-Keeper of the home to list my top five budget busters. This actually made me really think exactly what are my "top busters". Hubby and I have written down a very vague budget, one that just has the monthly bills, groceries, and gas for the vehicles, so there could be LOTS of budget busters if we were going based on our written budget. However, being the one that keeps track of my hubby's hardworking earnings, I have found these things as our top budget busters(items that make us have to pull from savings to make it to the next payday.)

Budget Busters

1. Home improvement projects---It seems that when hubby and I start a project there ends up being more to the project than anticipated or hubby will decide that since we are doing that project we might as well tackle 3 other projects to make the initial project be done “right”.

2. Late Night Drive-Thru Runs---Either hubby or I will do the drive thru of Wendy’s or McDonalds and bring it back home for our “bedtime snack”. I know it isn’t good for you to eat late like that but it is fun to do every once in a while. Basically a “mini date” without the kids.

3. Computer parts—hubby likes to buy used computer parts to “upgrade”(not because it is broke) the seven computers that we have in our house. I usually tell him if it ain’t broke don’t fix/upgrade it! Just a side note on might be thinking "seven computers"...each of my 4 older kids have a computer, hubby has a computer and a server that he has built to keep all our Mp3s, digital pictures, and family documents; and I have my own computer to do the research needed to homeschool the kids.

4. CDs/DVDs---music or movie it doesn’t matter! We have LOTS! Granted we get them when they are discounted but it still racks up the dollars.

5. Home decorations and artwork—I like having artwork in the house that has Bible verses or sayings. I have gotten into seasonal decorations. Like right now I have artificial spring flowers around my house. It makes the house look so cheery!

So there are my top budget busters! What are your budget busters? I am tagging 3 more people, so go check out their list....

Niki---Minimalist Mommy

Laura---Heavenly Homemakers


Oh and just because I didn't tag you doesn't mean you can't join in the fun! Go do a budget buster post on your blog and leave me a comment with the link or just leave me a comment with your budget busters! :) I would love to read about your budget busters. :)